Monday, November 5, 2012
Qing court artists studied and re-created masterworks in the topographical genre from the Song dynasty (960-1279). The legacy of these traditional paintings, which had continued to develop in the Yuan and Ming periods, could be both useful and poetic, and it informed the well-known series of Southern Inspection Tour scrolls commissioned first by the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1661-1722) and later by Qianlong (r. 1736-1795). Kangxi also recognized the strategic utility of Western cartography and employed Europeans to survey and map the empire, and his successors carried on the practice. However, traditional Chinese mapmaking remained a standard administrative tool to the end of Imperial rule. In panoramas that foreshadow Good Street View, Qing painters recorded a wealth of information while maintaining a link to the classical aesthetic.
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